Tyler Greene finally got a pitch up in the zone, a hanging breaking ball, and hammered it. It had two-run double written all over it.
Greene got just a few steps out of the right-hand batter's box at Bowman Field on Thursday when Batavia third baseman Patrick Wisdom leaped and snared the ball out of the air. Instead of chipping away just a bit more at Batavia's five-run lead, Williamsport was turned away with no runs despite having the bases loaded with nobody out in the seventh inning.
The Muckdogs' Jonathan Keener hit a three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning to seal the Crosscutters' fate in a 10-2 loss to Batavia last night. The Muckdogs moved just one game behind Auburn in the race for the Pinckney Division title with the win, and Williamsport moved within four losses of tying the single-season record for losses in a season.
Batavia built a 7-0 lead in the first four innings thanks to a throwing error and a pair of two-run extra-base hits from the bottom third of the lineup. Against Batavia starter Tim Cooney, a seven-run lead might as well have been a 70-run lead.
The left-hander out of Wake Forest had given up more than one run in just three of his 11 appearances this season prior to last night. He gave up a pair of runs to the Cutters in the fourth thanks to three two-out hits. Larry Greene Jr. got it started with an infield single, Mitch Walding followed with a clean single and Yan Carlos Olmo doubled to right-center to score a pair of runs and cut their deficit to 7-2.
"I stress situational hitting and running the bases hard, and if you watched the game (Thursday), we're down 10-2 and guys are still running the bases hard," Cutters manager Andy Tracy said of Greene getting the rally started with an infield single. "Guys are still hustling down the baseline and that's going to make them better professional players."
The Cutters got another chance to chip away in the seventh after Cooney was lifted from the game. Walding and Olmo worked walks on 3-2 pitches to start the inning, and Logan Moore singled to left field on a hopper down the third-base line that was just out of the reach of Wisdom.
But a pop out and a strikeout left the Cutters in danger of getting nothing. Greene, who swung at two breaking balls in the dirt to start his at-bat, got another one and crushed it. Wisdom made a great leaping grab to end the threat and casually sauntered off the field after killing any hopes of a rally.
"I like him a lot. I think he's talented," Tracy said of Wisdom. "Big, strong corner guy. He plays solid defense. I wish he would have messed that play up."
Batavia did the bulk of its damage offensively with the bottom third of its order. The third-best hitting team in the New York-Penn League has done the bulk of its damage this year with the top portion of its lineup. But last night it was three of the Muckdogs' more unheralded hitters who came through.
Kolby Byrd, Jonathan Keener and Matthew Young were hitting a combined .224 going into last night's game. They finished the night a combined 5 for 11 with a double, triple, home run, five runs scored and eight RBIs.
Byrd was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs. Keener was 2 for 4 with a home run and four RBIs, and Young had a two-run triple in the fourth inning.
"I think they're a solid team up and down," Tracy said. "You have to make pitches to them, and you can't just throw pitches in to them. They seem like a bunch of college guys who take good passes at the ball and they hit pitches that are supposed to be hit."
Cutters starting pitcher Ulises Joaquin struggled to get the ball out of the middle of the plate last night. The Batavia offense was able to jump on his mid-90s fastball, knocking him from the game after just 3 1/3 innings.
Joaquin gave up his first run on a 1-2 pitch to Keener in the second inning. When Larry Greene Jr.'s throw to the plate sailed over the head of catcher Logan Moore, Joaquin was there to back up the play. Joaquin tried to throw out Byrd who was trying to advance to third on the throw, but Joaquin's throw went wide of third and down the left-field line. Both Byrd and Keener scored on the overthrow.
In the fourth, Joaquin gave up a two-run double to Byrd on an 0-2 pitch, and the two-run triple to Young came on a 1-0 pitch.
"You can't fault a guy for making a physical mistake like that," Tracy said. "He was trying to make a play. It's a hard throw for a pitcher because he doesn't make that throw. Quinnie is covering, Larry is coming in, the center fielder gets to the ball because Larry is coming in. All of it was good except the results. I think it opened the game up a bit. And against a team like that with that arm they're throwing at you in a playoff race, it's hard to fall behind."